Playlist of My Life – Songs that Spark a Memory

Ever hear a song and get transported to a time and a place? It doesn’t mean you love the song, but every time you hear it a flood of memories come to you? Here’s mine, in a sort of timeline of my life. ( I reiterate, these are not songs that I love, but songs when I hear them they spark a strong memory).

Brown Girl in the Ring – Boney M 

I’m in the study in my parents’ house, there’s a tiny vinyl single with an orange label and I’m singing “She looks like a sugar in a plum, plum plum”. Modern music in a house where it was trad and RTE Radio One all the way was a big deal and I loved this tune in all its mod-ren glory. 

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club/The Mini Pops

I thought the Mini Pops were the coolest thing ever, I had  this on vinyl and played Karma Chameleon over and over again. “Red Gold and Gree-ee-ee-een”. 


Phil the Fluter’s Ball – Brendan O’Dowda on The Complete Works of Percy French

Some time back in the 1980’s my Dad had this on double cassette. Long drives in the car to matches were made longer shorter by listening to the complete works (over and over). There were some I loved, like Phil the Fluter’s Ball, and some I hated, like Gortnamona and Father O’Callaghan,  and some that just confused me like “McBreen’s Heifer” which describes a young man’s dilemma trying to choose which of two sisters to marry, one being prettier, but the second coming with an extra heifer as a dowry. Turn down your feminist side and read the lyrics HERE including how one of the sisters had a “face that the divil designed”)

True Blue – Madonna 

Remember the song? Remember the actions? I loved this and was lucky enough to own the tape. When I was 11 and my sister was 1 my aunt gave me my first walkman for Christmas, with this tape in it. I played it constantly. Then my sister put my walkman down the toilet with the tape in it. There were tears, and evil toddler grins. I still haven’t gotten over it.

Heaven is a Place on Earth- Belinda Carlisle

In Fifth and Sixth Class it was in vogue to stay in the classroom during break time and sing songs from lyrics that we had cut out of Smash Hits.This one is one that really sticks with me.


Katie – Mary Black

I loved Mary Black and when I hear Katie I’m back in Leaving Cert, looking nerdy and singing along in my head (because you don’t want to hear my singing voice).

What’s Up – 4 Non Blondes

In the summers of 1992 and 1993 I sold strawberries at a roadside stall. It was a long and lonely day, sitting at the Doctor’s Cross, waiting for people to stop to by strawberries. Atlantic 252 kept me company on a battery operated radio and this song brings me right back there (as do The Crash Test Dummies Mmm Mmm Mmm and The O’Connell’s ’74 – ’75)


Butterfly – The Pale

The Pale played lots of college gigs in UL when I was there, or that’s how I remember it, buying tickets that looked like shop receipts and getting on buses to random nightclubs, shepherded around by the ENTS Crew. I liked them so much I bought the CD. See:  I am the Butterfly was my favourite, or maybe Dogs with no Tails.

Zombie – The Cranberries

Having gone to college in Limerick it’s no surprise that a Cranberries tune features here, but it’s not Limerick it reminds me of when I hear it, it’s The Hideout Bar in the Latin Quarter of Paris where I spent every Saturday from February to September 1995 (20F pints during happy hour!). The bar was run by two brothers from Limerick and when Zombie came on the place would stop talking and start singing along, arms draped over the next person’s shoulder. It was our national anthem for that time.

Sit Down – James

I’m in the Courtyard in the Stables bar in the mid 1990s, drinking in Rag Week, probably whatever the cheapest pint was, in a plastic glass, enthusiastically ROARING along to this song.

Jump Around – House of Pain

“Pack it up, Pack it in, Public Admin!” I am back in the Indie Room in the Park in Limerick. Jumping around. Not in Public Admin.


Peaches – The Presidents of the United States of America

1996, Wexford won the All Ireland, I had a great summer and met my husband that year. There were two songs about fruit that were hits that year, Peaches and Lemon Tree. This one has me sitting in Castlebrook with the gang, sunshimmer all over me, having a few cans before going in to Nancy Blake’s. Happy, happy times.

Your Woman – White Town

The irony that the song that reminds me of the early days of going out with my husband is called “Your Woman” but the lyrics say “I will NEVER be your woman”. It also features a Star Wars theme.



Nightswimming – REM

I’m in Fourth Year in College, in my downstairs room in Kilmurry Village, counting down the days til my 21st birthday and my flight to New York a few days later when I’ll be reunited with my boyfriend. (He’s my husband now). I’m sleepy as this song is near the end of Automatic for the People.

Everything Must Go – Manic Street Preachers

This always reminds me of my masters year as I think it was one of the only CDs one of my housemate owned, and he played it, loud and often. I could have put If I Tolerate this Then Your Children will be next, but this one works.

Please Forgive Me – David Gray

Hands up who didn’t own a copy of White Ladder in the late 1990’s? This brings me to my early days in Dublin, we even saw him live in the Point (when it was still called the Point) and wondered if his head wasn’t going to wobble off (remember the way he nodded it from side to side as he sang?)


Grace – Jim McCann

“Grace” had a real comeback with the 1916 commemorations, being a song that commemorates the final hours of Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, but for me, every time I hear it I’m at a wedding and Pete is telling everyone to shush, Dave is telling everyone to “Give the man a chance” and the room goes silent. Pete can really sing this song. This song is wedding season, 2003-2006.


Sorry – Boyzone

Not the Boyzone version, the Benny and Will version. “SssssshhhHorry”. Benny is singing it, probably using a bottle of Bulmers as a microphone and everyone is breaking their hearts laughing. I’ve no idea how it started, but nearly 20 years later I still think of my good friends’ parody when I hear this song. Good Times. Awful, awful song.

La Camisa Negra – Juanes

We went to South American on honeymoon in 2005 and this seemed to be the only song on the radio in every shop, hotel, bus and taxi. Who knew it would follow us home years later. It’s catchy all the same.


Mr Brightside – The Killers

I’ve loved this song for years, it reminds me of nights out, jumping up and down with happiness and then we discovered that our babies would stop crying if it played, so we blared it in the car and it worked every time. (My mother did thing that we had lost the plot coming out of Dingle in the car one evening when we were panicking as to where the CD was when the baby started to cry). Also, I’m not telling how we figured this out.  Desperate times folks. Mr Brightside worked better than the kitchen fan. I think this might just be my favourite song ever. Listen here.

Friday I’m in Love – The Cure

This song is on our wedding DVD (we got married on a Friday), so when I hear it I go right back to that happy, happy day and the image of my husband in his wedding garb comes into my head, awwww. (Although Love Cats is my preferred Cure song)

Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine

When I hear this song I’m pregnant with Laoise and I’m driving to work in Dublin in the dark. The words “always darkest before the dawn” stuck with me and not just because it was dark, that was my hardest pregnancy and the commuting was so tough, but things got better.

That’s it so far, more recent events aren’t covered as they don’t spark memories yet, I have favourite songs but it’s hard to identify the ones that will bring me back to places, until something sparks. Watch out for a post soon entitled “All the songs I forgot to include in my playlist post”.


To see more posts like this check out the linky on Simply Homemade, thanks Nicola for the prompt.



  1. What a list! It is funny with some songs you have chosen I have memories of my own appearing in my head.

  2. I never had a Percy French tape.Chieftains, Dubliners, Dé Dannann, yes – it must’ve been your mother’s !

    As for that other stuff…


  3. Oh god The Connells 74-75 reminds me of a road trip my brother and sister and I did with our uncle around the west coast of Ireland around ’93. We would be having so much fun and then every time this song came on the radio we would all be silent and it sucked all the joy out of everything. It haunts me. And it’s so long……

    This is such a good list 🙂 Thanks for the memories! Really made my day.I’m going to be humming Crash Test Dummies all day now! MMMM

    • Ha, sucked the joy, love it. For me it’s linnets of strawberries and reading novels to pass the time it reminds me of

  4. Oh wow, *brilliant* list, so many memories and you’ve triggered so many more for me too……that Boyzone song, my friends husband did his version too way back before he was her husband……Heaven is A Place on Earth, LOVED it!
    Thank you for joining in 🙂

  5. if i ever start a blog, the first entry will be a blatant rip-off of this. 🙂

    nice work, kiddo!

    • Thanks Ivan. You nearly made the cut, a little West End Girls to commemorate a memorable Valentine’s night in London!

  6. Love your list Sinead! I remember always trying to get a signal in my friends garden for Atlantic 252!

  7. Oh Mini Pops! Such happy memories. And True Blue. And Jump Around. And pretty much everything on the list – I got nostalgic all over again reading this!

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